Steve Wilson. On music.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Plimsouls - Beach Town Confidential (Alive Records)

 Peter Case of the Plimsouls never cared much for the power-pop label. And while the Plimsouls were contemporaries with bands lumped into the punk category the band never self-identified as punk. Of course among their late Seventies/early Eighties peers in the Los Angeles scene there were bands as diverse as X, the Zeros, the Dils, the Germs, and the Alley Cats – all of whom were categorized as punk, only begging the question: what is punk anyway? And its corollary: who cares?

After a decade that spewed forth everything from prog-rock to Malibu singer-songwriters to disco, all the above were rock ‘n’ roll bands. Their shared commitment was to high-energy performance and direct, concise songs. And if energy and succinct songs were the criteria, few bands did it better than the Plimsouls. Their sub-genre inspirations ranged from Merseybeat to rhythm ‘n’ blues to freak-beat. I suppose they got the power-pop label laid on them because they had raw drive (power) and they didn’t sound like unskilled, unschooled half-asses (pop). So, there you go.

They had all the classic elements necessary for rock stardom (songs, looks, etc.), except the Seventies shifted that celestial alignment (see prog-rock, Malibu, disco …) forever. The dream of a universal rock language, the one that cemented the popularity and the legacies of everyone from the Beatle and Stones to the Kinks and the Who had already collapsed into a tower of FM-babble by the time that Big Star, the Flamin’ Groovies and the New York Dolls had all (relatively speaking) flopped.